The strange case of Mr Putin and the disappearing carpet of turf

 

Moscow

Bloggers in a provincial Russian town are investigating what happened to hundreds of strips of turf used to spruce up the town centre before a visit from the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, which disappeared almost as soon as he left.

A video that has gained more than 50,000 views on YouTube claims to show how the city of Pskov, in north-west Russia, prepared for Mr Putin's visit late last month, with flowers planted, roads repaved, and hundreds of rolls of lush green turf laid out over muddy soil. A second video shows the city just after Mr Putin left, with the turf nowhere in sight. Bloggers joked that it could be special turf that travelled around Russia with Mr Putin; others suggested that local officials might have decided the grass would look nice at their country houses.

It is not the first "turf scandal" to hit Russia. Before Mr Putin's trip to the town of Saransk last week, local bloggers posted a video that appears to show workers spraying green paint onto muddy soil to give it the appearance of grass. A spokesman for the town's mayor said they weren't using paint, but a special "watering technique" that turned the ground green.

The turf stories fit into a long Russian tradition of "Potemkin villages", a term coined when Prince Grigory Potemkin apparently set up fake "model" villages to impress the Empress Catherine the Great on a trip to the Crimea in the 18th century.

Both Mr Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev travel frequently across Russia, and local bloggers often point out the lengths local administrators take to ensure the country's leaders leave their regions with good impressions. In late 2009, local journalists in the Siberian city of Omsk noted that a billboard advertising a theatre performance called "We are waiting for you, happy gnome!" was removed before a visit from Mr Medvedev. In December, a doctor from the city of Ivanovo called a televised phone-in session with Mr Putin to say that during the Prime Minister's recent visit to a local hospital, his bosses had borrowed new equipment from other hospitals and made some doctors pose as patients.

Mr Medvedev promised in April that he would in future make surprise trips to the regions and would punish local authorities who put on such fake shows.

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Tax Solicitor

£40000 - £70000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Tax Solicitor An excel...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exce...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz